Difference in baseball is striking

"I just want to keep playing,'' he told the Detroit Free Press.

His next contract should be a doozy.

Missing man formation: Don Mattingly is convinced Matt Kemp is healthy for one of the few times the last two years but still took him out of the lineup Thursday.

Kemp wasn't happy to be benched but his .182 batting average didn't help his argument.

"I don't ever want to sit,'' Kemp said. "But, you know, I didn't make the lineup out, Donnie B. did. He told me I needed a night off. I respect him for that."

With Kemp as the biggest issue, the Dodgers scored only 41 runs in their first 15 games, the lowest total in the majors. They have lacked power and clutch hitting, with Kemp and Andre Ethier a combined 2-for-36 with runners in scoring position.

Yasiel Puig is off to a strong start in the Southern League (.333/.385/.625) but he wasn't promoted for this week's series at Baltimore, when a designated hitter is required. Mattingly's hoping Kemp snaps out of it soon.

"Maybe I should be a little more worried about bad habits in a sense, but I'm not really seeing that,'' Mattingly said. "I'm seeing more of simple things like you would if anyone else was struggling — not backing the ball up, not getting himself strikes, pressing a little bit.''

Secret weapon: When the Giants swept the Tigers in the World Series a year ago, they had the benefit of scouting reports written by former catcher Brian Johnson, who followed his doctor wife to Detroit and bases himself out of Comerica Park.

"I've seen the Tigers 240 times in three years," Johnson told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I see 75 to 80 games a year, so if I don't know how to beat them, there's something wrong."

Johnson says there were "a couple of things I thought were pertinent I wanted to make sure were emphasized," but says the winning scouting report was a collaborative effort involving "a bunch of us.''

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

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